Following rallies about the racial climate on campus, Ithaca College will hold an event titled “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias,” which aims to list possible actions about this issue that could be undertaken immediately.
The event will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Athletics and Events Center. The college’s administration announced the event Oct. 23, in conjunction with the leadership of Faculty Council, Staff Council and the Student Government Association.
“The purpose of this meeting will be to list a set of actions that we are identifying as first steps to be undertaken immediately,” the announcement said. “We will seek the feedback of those present on our list of actions as well as on additional actions directed at creating a more inclusive community that values diversity in an environment of mutual respect and inclusion.”
The Ithacan will be live-blogging the event, check back here at 5 p.m. to read the live-blog.
Just arrived at the event, some students who were present at the POC at IC protest Oct. 24 are passing out copies of the Student Government Association bill: “Initiating a Student Vote of No Confidence in Ithaca College President Tom Rochon.”
By my estimate, there’s probably over a thousand people here. Still large groups of people walking in.
Crowds are starting to fill the bleachers in the back behind the main seating area.
Rochon: “Thank you all for being here at such an important event. Ithaca College has a problem… It is a problem on every college campus but that does not make it any less our problem.”
Rochon: “Bias and discrimination destroy the human solidarity we all have the right to…. This is an evil that walks on this campus every day. ”
Rochon: How can students fully explore their potential when faced with racism.
Rochon: IC can not be a learning community until it is a human community and one marked by dignity, respect and inclusion.
Rochon said one of his main goals was “effectively serving a far more diverse student body than we do now.” Our campus climate has not kept up with our student demographics.
Rochon says he has seen his own limitations, such as at the Blue Sky Reimagining Kick-Off event when he was “frozen in his seat” as the conversation got off track.
Rochon: I am suspending Blue Skies, IC 20/20 and all strategic workforce analysis.
Rochon said he is putting the three initiatives on hold to focus on the issue of diversity and inclusion.
Rochon introduced Sean Reilley.
Protestors starts chant of “Tom Rochon” No Confidence.
We’ve got a group of faculty holding up the word “NO”
Students storm the stage
An estimated group of 40 students is now on stage.
Faculty members are taking part in the “No Confidence” chant.
Sophomore Ava Bryan: “We are here today to express an issue we have talked about time and time again.”
Bryan: “We must examine why we are here.”
Bryan said the students oppose the top-down approach of the administration and want students to vote no in the SGA’s no confidence vote.
Junior Tate Johnson takes the microphone.
Johnson cites “Culture Moves,” Rochon’s book.
Johnson: “Tom Rochon does not pass on cultural values that are consistent with students at this institution.” Specifically students of color.
Johnson says it’s time for “radical change.”
Junior Kimberly Nicolas is discussing a student research paper from 2011 which suggested possible solutions.
Junior Kimberly Nicolas is discussing a student research paper from 2011 which suggested possible solutions, which she said have been ignored.
Nicolas brought up how the President and trustees were there for a presentation of the results, which spawned the Campus Climate Survey. She goes on to say that ALANA students are facing the same struggles they did in 2011.
Sophomore Gabby Malave is now bringing up the delay of the Campus Climate Survey results.
Malave spoke about the results of the Campus Climate Survey, saying they reveal the negative campus climate for ALANA students. Information about those results here: http://theithacan.org/news/campus-climate-survey-results-reveal-perception-gap/
Another student is now bringing up failures of Blue Sky event to engage students. She is quoting Dom Recckio’s letter in The Ithacan.
Student is discussing the difference between the response to the Blue Sky event and the response to AEPI’s planned party.
The student is reading the Ithaca College response to the Blue Sky event, in a not-so-serious voice. Audience erupted in applause and laughter.
Each student is ending their remarks with: “because of that we have no confidence in you,” referring to President Tom Rochon.
Another student is now discussing the response to the AEPi racially-charged party theme, saying the college absolved themselves from responsibility since AEPi is not affiliated with the college.
The student addressed members of AEPI, saying: “You are responsible,” and says they should be held accountable for what they did.
Another student says Rochon does not hold himself accountable when he messes up.
“How are we supposed to hold each other accountable if we can’t hold you accountable?” Student says, looking at Rochon.
Student says AEPi party invitation shows the way privilege works and was inherently racial.
Sophomore Marlena Candelario Romero says students associated with AEPI party have not been held accountable.
Romero says the refusal to cut ties with Christopher Burch shows how he has distanced himself and the college from the problem.
Another student says they do not support the meetings Rochon is trying to hold because meetings in the past have not led to results.
If you haven’t been paying attention, about 30 students, many associated with POC at IC, have taken the stage. Taking turns talking about why they have no confidence in Rochon.
He goes on to say the group will be holding demand sessions which will be posted on the POC at IC Facebook, which will be “free of administration and press.”
POC at IC says meeting is over, they’re walking out.
A majority of the crowd is leaving the meeting
A large group of faculty members walked out with students.
Rochon and all of the members of the panel remain on the stage.
Group chanting: “Tom Rochon; no confidence” as they leave the A&E Center.
A room that was largely full, now has a number of empty seats. Room is at least half empty.
Rochon is now preparing to speak. “We have been given some great, vivid, powerful illustrations of why now is the time to act.”
Rochon said if they had stayed, he would have thanked them for reading his book and that there are times where a community needs to drastically change.
Rochon: “This is a meeting in which we are going to lay out an ambitious action agenda.”
Rochon now reintroduces Reilley.
A slide on the screen proposes “tailored programs in cross-cultural awareness and effectiveness identified and required for all staff and administration”, starting with baseline programing in January 2016. Every administration and staff member is required to attend additional diversity and inclusion training.
Comprehensive on-going diversity and inclusion competency education program for staff and administrators developed by HR for implementation Summer 2016.
All new employees will be required to participate in cross-cultural effectiveness training within three months of their hiring. All job descriptions will be updated with the expectation of competency in cross-cultural awareness and inclusion.
Current performance review expectations on diversity will be modified to include measurable merit outcomes related to participation in cross-cultural awareness and effectiveness programs by May 2017.
“All staff, from the bottom to the Presidential level will be held to the same level.” -Sean Reilley
Rothbart takes the microphone.
Beginning in fall 2016, new faculty orientation will include a half day on inclusion and multicultural competence in the classroom and in advising and mentoring students.
Rothbart said each academic department will hold an event or workshop to increase inclusive collegiality and professionalism. On Nov. 10, Faculty Council will develop a plan of action on inclusion and cross cultural effectiveness for faculty.
Volunteers, including trustees, members of the alumni board of directors and others, will complete cross-cultural awareness training by May 2016.
Faculty will set up and meet goals for diversifying volunteer leadership with annual check-ins and will revise volunteer roles and responsibilities with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
Chris Biehn approaches stage, says volunteers are essential to the campus community.
Rothbart brings up inclusivity of other groups, including LGBTQ students and students with disabilities.
Biehn: We will revise volunteer roles and responsibilities with a focus on diversity.
Rifkin takes the microphone to talk about faculty and staff recruitment.
Rifkin: All semi-finalist and finalist lists will be reviewed for diversity.
Rifkin is now discussing the new minority hiring policies: http://theithacan.org/news/ithaca-college-releases-new-minority-faculty-hiring-policies/
Pre-doc faculty program for diversity will immediately be increased to four individuals and will be opened to all give schools.
Retention program for ALANA faculty will be developed by Spring 2016.
Student employees will now receive baseline training in cross-cultural awareness.
Rifkin now brings up Student Employment, the Office of Student Employment will develop a system for posting all open student employment positions for the upcoming year by March 2016.
Rifkin introduces Recckio.
An office to serve as the physical and emotional support “safe space” for ALANA students will be identified by Fall 2016.
Student Support: Guidelines for Resolving Discrimination Complaints, how to seek help, and resources available to students to support student complaints related to inequity and bias anywhere on campus will be displayed and distributed to all students by January 2016.
A mentor program linking ALANA alumni and students will be developed by Fall 2016.
Increased emphasis on inclusion and respect added to the annual fall welcome in 2016, and in the Leadership Academy as of 2016.
Recckio says there will be increased emphasis on inclusion and respect in the Leadership Academy for athletes as of Fall 2016. Recckio says there will be an increased emphasis on inclusion and respect for leaders of student organizations for 2016-17.
There will be increased emphasis on inclusion and respect for leaders of students organizations.
Recckio introduces Rochon.
Group chanting: “Tom Rochon; no confidence” as they leave the A&E Center.
Rochon says body cameras will be introduced by Fall 2016, and beginning immediately additional programming will support a positive relationship between Public Safety Officers and ALANA community members and visitors to campus.
Rochon on Public Safety: We will conduct an independent external review of Public Safety in Spring 2016. We will establish a campus community review board by January 2016.
Rochon brings up additional ongoing actions, including the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, read more here: http://theithacan.org/news/ithaca-college-creates-council-on-diversity-and-inclusion/
Rochon reminds crowd a campus climate survey with external facilitation and analysis will be administered in Fall of 2016 semester.
Rochon now addressing Accountability.
There will be ongoing consultation and assessment of progress by the administration working directly with the leadership of Faculty Council, Staff Council and SGA.
Full transparency maintained by posting and regularly updating progress on each of these actions through an all-college website.
For each action, the relevant vice president will conduct an annual review of outcomes.
Pre-doc faculty program for diversity will immediately be increased to four individuals and will be opened to all five schools.
Student asks Rochon what the Public Safety program improvements will be.
Another student asks Rochon why he didn’t address sexism on campus.
Rochon said he wants to be clear everywhere they talked about inclusion includes a variety of groups, although they are currently focusing on race.
Another student asks Rochon what the additional programs between ALANA students and Public Safety Officers would look like, Rochon says he doesn’t know but there is a Public Safety/RA workgroup which is currently working.
Rochon is asked if he still thinks he can effectively do this job based on the lack of confidence in him from students and faculty. Rochon says he is doing the best he can and will let others judge him.
Rochon is asked if he think diversity training will be effective. Rochon says the college will create an environment that will make the training effective.
Students asks about current classmates and what type of training they will receive.
Rochon says they don’t have an answer to that at this moment.
Students asks who will be in charge of creating culture competency training, Rochon says outside consultants will help.
Student asks Rochon to include students of color in creating the training, points out that there are “Six white dudes” on the stage. Crowd applauses.
“What is the plan of action for now?” student asks about Public Safety officers.
Peter Rothbart, chair of Faculty Council, just took microphone and asked student if calling them six white dudes was a “microaggression.”
Rochon says at the beginnings of next semester the campus community review board will be a place for complaints to be filed, and that the delay to get body cameras is legal.
Marissa Booker is now telling Rothbart that racism is systematic.
Booker said listening to the panel “puts her through pain.”
Booker says she is speaking as an individual and not as a representative of any group.
An African-American student is now bringing up how the majority of people in the room are white. “How do you expect us to accept from people who don’t look like us?”
Rochon said he was pleased to see the hall full earlier and was deeply saddened when people left.
Rochon said he was struck very forcefully when he read the list of student demands from the rally last week that the students wanted to see President Tom Rochon address the issue with concrete actions without delegation to committees and subcommittees, which he said he is doing right now.
Rochon points out that vice presidents and leaders of governance bodies on campus did not delegate to committees.
Rochon says action will be taken.
Student asks who will be on campus community review board, will it include students.
Rochon said this dialogue is very important and it will continue that as long as possible, gives people the option to leave.
Student asks Rochon why people should have faith in them.
Rochon says look at my results.
When he was asked to list results Rochon said 1. Look at my results 2. Look at my results 3. Look at my results. Members of the crowd ask: “What results?”
Student asks how the six people on the stage who are more privileged than “most of the people in the room” can effectively lead when they can not truly understand the issues.
Student asks the panel not to treat her like “an attacker” and says she should feel equal to the people on stage.
Student asks for more diversity in student body and administration.
Tim Conners brings up his privilege as a white male, said he felt like people on stage aren’t listening. Says Rochon’s results “suck right now.” Brings up accountability, need for holding campus community members accountable. Conners says people need to be uncomfortable during these conversations. If people go through training and aren’t held accountable, “then what?”
Rochon said accountability is the cornerstone of the program.
Student says he is angered by students assuming identitites because of the way they look. Says he is Puerto Rican and Muslim, but looks white.
Tom Bloss, information systems manager, comments, says the plans written out are very prescriptive. Bloss says there are wounds in the institution and the college as a whole. “How are we going to heal these wounds that have been created?” He says he doesn’t know many students of color on campus, and will personally try to get to know more students.
Only about 100 people left in the room.
Rochon said they will not be putting up the slides online immediately after this meeting because he wants to take into account the suggestions and comments from the meeting and index cards
Rochon says plan is not implementable in its current state.
Student asks how students will be held accountable for microaggressions and more blatant acts of racism?
Rochon says there is a difference between how students can be disciplined on campus compared to off campus, references AEPi.
Kyle James, SGA vp of academic affairs, asks Rochon: What are some things he’s done wrong in terms of diversity and inclusion on campus?
Rochon said he has replayed in his head the Chris Burch comments many times, asks for empathy, says things are easier in retrospect than in the moment. “I did not react there the way I wish I had.”
He said he calls not replying to the Burch comment the “most painful” moment he has experienced in a long time.
Rochon said he is willing to bet many more students and faculty are more aware now than they were a week ago.
Student interrupts, says Rochon shouldn’t take credit. Rochon says he wasn’t, commends the Wednesday protest.
Student says he appreciates Rochon answering questions. Student states anti-semitism is an issue on this campus, and he is upset that students who took the stage made an anti semitic remark when they referenced the administrations response to the drawing of a swastika in East Tower a couple years ago.
Rochon says anti-semitism is under umbrella of what needs to be addressed.
Rochon says it wasn’t that that act of hate wasn’t pursued vigorously, but that other acts of hate need to be addressed as vigorously.
Another student says Hillel supports initiatives and wants to be part of the discussion to move forward and encourages other students to be involved.
Rochon now doing one last sweep for questions.
Student asks Rochon how he expects the ALANA community to respect him.
Rochon said he is motivated by moving the college forward and not by earning people’s respect.
Student brings up that changes need to happen now. Students says protests show how things need to happen now.
Another student brings up that more students at Ithaca College need to be informed about how to be more accepting and have a broader view of the world.
Same student asks Rochon how the college can include those most knowledgable, including professors with PHD’s in culture and communication.
Same student asks Rochon how the college can include those most knowledgable, including professors with PhDs in culture and communication.
Rochon said the observations truly resonates, says faculty, staff and administration need to be brought into greater awareness as well. He said he is proud of the Ithaca College Faculty for having a diversity requirement in the ICC.
Rochon: “Culture change needs to have many agents, there will be places where faculty members will be out front.”
Student Josh Toomey suggests Rochon include ALANA students in positions of power in the initiatives. Rochon said he contacted a rally organizer and asked to speak with the group, which led to the meeting on Friday in which the group did not engage. Rochon said he does not fault them for not wanting to engage and hopes the campus will get to the point where that scenario is possible.
Faculty member Donald Lifton tells Rochon for the campus to move forward, he needs to step down.
Student asks Rochon why it took this long to address this issue, Rochon says he’s looking forward not looking back.
Rochon says diversity and inclusion are the most important things, demonstrates importance by how the college is pushing everything else aside.
Student asks Rochon when next draft of actions will come. Rochon says it will take feedback, but will respond urgently. Says a minority of the initiatives will be started this semester. Rochon says he’s not sure when the next draft will come.
Student now brings up the college’s statement in prospective students folders, says that was manipulating the protest’s voices and actions.
Gerald Hector, vice president of finance and administration, now takes the microphone in the crowd. Hector says he’s troubled by the fact that “there seems to be a notion that one individual can solve this.” Hector talking about the City of Ithaca, brings up racism three of his children have to experience as students in the Ithaca community.
Hector says he understands blackness, as he is a black man. Hector says he’s upset by some of the notions that have come up today. He says dialogue is important. Hector says he thinks the movement has morphed away from the issues and into “Get Tom Rochon.”
Hector says we need dialogue and it needs to happen now.
Hector says as he walks around the campus, he hears anger, frustration. Hector says he is a member of the ALANA community and he needs to be heard. He asks where do the solutions come from if there is no dialogue.
Hector says he has spoken to African-American groups on campus, talks about their shared lived experiences as black males, lists off police brutality, stereotyping in stores and in the community.
Hector says if we can’t sit together and have a discussion as a community, how are predominately white institutions supossed to ever address the issue?
Hector asks if any society can exist without conversations? Asks what is it really about, “Is it about do we want Dr. Rochon gone?” “If so, then what?”
Hector says we are at a time in the IC history that we must open up discussions.
Hector says, “how are going to have that understanding if we don’t have dialogue?”
Hector says he talks as an African-American male who has gone through the racism of corporate America, says when he got here the African-American community was shocked. Hector says we take our frustrations and we project it on one person, gesturing to Rochon.
Hector lists off steps 1. We have a problem 2. We have a problem that’s bigger than this one campus. 3. We have to actively engage in discussions. Hector says no one can do it by themselves, everyone must be engaged. He says he is committed to getting this done. Hector says this discussion decides the reputation of the college and its future.
Hector says he has seen how the President come around and tried to engage. Hector says he is upset because students threw that effort away. Hector says an honest effort cannot be rebutted because we want a specific action. Hector says at the end of the day, society has shaped the reality we have to deal with right now and it’s not going away. The culture on this campus is one that is strained and it is strained because we don’t understand the realities and the lived experiences of other people are on campus.
Student brings up that students are the one’s creating a community of prejudice, says students need to take this into their own hands and look at what they can do.
Booker now has the microphone, says she thinks Hector disregarded what many students of color said. She then asks Rochon why ALANA students denied dialogue.
Booker says it’s not that ALANA students are not unwilling to speak, they just want more meaningful dialogue.
Booker tells Rochon that he needs to stop being in a public relations mindset. She calls the entire event PR. She says she doesn’t feel the sincerity of the event. Booker says she understands the problem is systematic and not just Rochon. She says she hasn’t heard Rochon take sincere responsibility for what happens on campus. Booker asks Rochon to respond as a human being.
Booker says she is talking as an individual, but she feels that her voice was disregarded, brings up the fact that meeting is still going with a large portion of the community not present.
Booker says she wants to be treated as a human being.
Hector now responding, says Booker doesn’t know his motivations.
Hector says now we’re having a dialogue, brings up importance of having continued dialogue. Hector says he considers this talk sincere.
Hector says for him to be successful he has had to work with people who don’t look like him.
Hector says dialogue and a motive from the heart is what the campus is missing. Hector says heartfelt dialogue is what this campus needs.
Hector says his actions are beyond sincere. Hector says the folks he serves with have been trying to work on this since the RA Public Safety issue.
Hector and Booker now going back and forth, Booker says she feels disrespected. Hector says he isn’t trying to disrespecting her. Hector says the issue is much larger than any one individual. Hector says leadership requires dialogue and understanding other points of view.
Another staff or faculty member is given the microphone from Booker, he says his experience is that Rochon does care. He says students feel invalidated on campus.
Rochon is now wrapping up, he thanks everyone on stage. Thanks the crowd for attending. “If we actually work on this together as I believe we will, we’ll make a very big difference.”
That’s a wrap.